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A Great Time to be in Alberta

February 4th, 2006  · stk
As luck would have it, we picked a wonderful time to be living in Alberta. The last two winters have been mild and the Provincial government sent us money in the mail, just for being here. Amazing. Read about how we pulled the plum out of the pie and our uncanny good luck in Edmonton, Alberta ...

Little did we know that when we moved from British Columbia to Alberta, half-way through 2004, we were timing our arrival perfectly. At the time, we were just happy that Rachel had been accepted into the after-degree nursing programs at both UofC and UofA. We chose Edmonton and have been happy with the decision (though we sometimes wonder if living in Calagary - which is four times closer to the Canadian Rockies than Edmonton - would have been a better choice for us).

Regardless, we can't complain.

Housing prices are reasonable here, as measured by Vancouver standards. We're renting an entire 3-bedroom house, complete with a finished basement, detached garage and a large, fenced yard (with a swing-set for Alex), at a price only a little more that what we paid for a cold, dark, 1-bedroom, basement suite in the Vancouver suburb of New Westminster.

Sure, the first winter was a shock for a California transplanted boy and Vancouver-raised girl (and to think that the neighbors remarked, "Oh no, it was mild winter." Are they crazy?) The difficulty of our first winter was undoubtedly exacerbated by having a 1-year-old Alex at home, all day. Because she wasn't yet walking well, going out-of-doors in minus degree weather wasn't a real possibility, so we experienced a tad bit of 'cabin-fever', as the winter bore on.

Of course, summers are absolutely glorious here and while we were gone for all of July last year, we'll be staying here, this summer. Rachel will be doing a 'practicum' at a local hospital, her last requirement before graduation. We're both looking forward to the summer ... great weather ... no more classes, term papers or final exams ... yay!

Our good fortune in Alberta continued, as we realized that we qualified for a Provencial child-care subsidy. As a full-time student, Rachel is a pauper. As a brand new transplant from the United States, trying to get a home business going, Scott's income doesn't put us in a high tax bracket. We took advantage of the program and we're glad we did. Alex LOVES the social interaction she gets at "school" and Scott has shifted focus from being "Mr. Mom" to Mr. Handy-man and a fledgeling web-developer.

Our good timing was also evident, as we were here to for Alberta's Centennial celebrations, not that we really partook. On centennial day, we rode our bikes to Fort Edmonton Park, because they were having an 'open house'. We celebrated by reflecting on Edmonton's roots, dating back to the 1800's, when it was a fur trapping, trading post, run by the Hudson's Bay Company. We had a fun time (till the end) and even wrote a journal entry about it.

And our good timing became very evident last week. It marked the end of January. Winter has been non-existent this year and spring is right around the corner. Yahoo! Then, buried in our normal bills and advertisement junk mail, were checks from the Alberta Provincial governemnt for $1200.00. Wow!

Coming Soon:

  "The Winter of our Heart's Content"

  "Dinosaurs Roar: Prosperous Alberta"

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Updated: 5-Mar-2006
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Astonish Me

December 11th, 2005  · stk
b2evo

After a year working with b2evolution, I've decided to join forces with a British programmer, combining our efforts and creating a value-added website presence at a soon-to-be-announced web location. Initially, our goal will be to provide b2evo-specific add-on features, tutorials and plug-ins. Many of these features will be free, in the spirit of Open Source software, but because we both hope to continue full-time development, we'll be accepting donations, offering site subscriptions, and taking on website consulting work. And we're planning on extending support, articles and features beyond b2evolution, covering such diverse topics as CSS, XHTML, site maintenance, design and a number of other open source applications.

Pooling our efforts should result in more popular and well-documented plug-ins and features for the b2evolution blogging community at large. We want to promote a savvy, active and strong b2evo community, raising the bar, across the board. Both as a tribute and acknowledgement, we'll be donating 10% of our gross to b2evolution.net (or to whichever open source application we've earned money from).

To start, it will be the two of us, but we're interested in adding to the team and we're looking for dynamic, prolific, well-organized, enthusiastic contributors that can add value to our services. If you're interested, please drop us a line.

We're excited by our joint venture and hope that you will be too. By combining talents, one with 20+ years in programming and developemnt and the other with a similar experience in user support and technical computing, we hope to offer superior enhancements which are easily deployed and well documented.

With a major version release on the horizon (i.e., "Phoenix"), our efforts are timely. We can increase the adoption rate, provide sought-after features and in the process, strenghten the b2evo blogging community. We're both active on the b2evo forums and will remain so. Our individual blogs will continue to be a source of information, but will likely direct you to the new website for detail and downloads. Our goal isn't to make a financial "killing", but we do hope that there's enough monetary support to justify a full-time effort.

Make a list of your desired enhancement requests and features, because we'll be looking to you to help set our direction. What would YOU like to do with b2evolution that you can't do now?

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Updated: 6-Feb-2006
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Penn State College Football

October 1st, 2005  · stk

I don't follow sports. NFL, NBA, NHL or any other "N". I'm just not "N"-to it, if you know what I mean. However, College Football is a different animal. I attended Penn State (graduating with a Masters of Science in GeoPhysics in 1983), so I have an affiliation with the school and their football team.

Today's convincing win against the Nationally-ranked (#18) Minnesota Gophers (with a score of 44-14), moves the here-to-for unranked Nittany Lions into Top-25 territory. Go Lions! For the first time in a number of years, WE HAVE A TEAM!

"Listen live" to Penn State football: PSU Football -- click for streaming audio options.

 

Beaver stadium holds over 106,000 people. It's huge - the second largest college stadium in the nation. I've attended games there (not when it was THAT large, but still, it was pretty huge when I was going to school there). I remember a game in 1982, when #1 Nebraska came to play #2 Penn State (Penn State won in the final seconds, with a shoe-string catch in the end zone). What a thrill! The best game I've ever attended, for sure.

The tradition lives on today and still, Joe Paterno remains head coach. What a class act. What an upstanding guy. He must love what he does and he has contributed SO much to the school, the players and college football. I know his contract is good through the 2008 season, so we can still look forward to him leading the team for another 2 seasons, at least. Way to go, Joe.

Next week, Penn State faces #8 Ohio State. Let's hope that they keep their heads about them and commit no crimes (in this week's game, Penn State was penalized only 3 times, for 15 yards and neither fumbled the football, nor were intercepted - a stark contrast against the 5 cough-ups last week against Northwestern).

The clash between OSU and PSU is set for October 8th, 7:45 PM (EST) and you can listen to it here . For sure, it will be televised and if you're lucky enough to watch it - please DO. Color me jealous, because here in Edmonton, if it's not played on ice ... it ain't on T.V.

Nittany Lions!

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Updated: 5-Dec-2008
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Busy Lad - Handyman Dad

September 25th, 2005  · stk

If I haven't been writing much lately, it's because I've been up to my eyeballs in work. Not that that's a bad thing, but I must say ... I've got more than I can chew, right now.

How did this all start?

Last spring, we realized that if I were to work at something, we would be eligible for a Provincial child care subsidy. How? With Rachel in University and with me a stay-at-home Dad, our income is ZILCH. If I earned a buck, we'd make roughly $400 a month "extra" to help keep Alex socially adjusted, entertained and up to her eyeballs in more germs than you can shake a stick at. (I'm all for "free" money if/when you can get it, mostly because I've been putting INTO the system for years, it's nice to take a bit OUT.) ;)

In March, I started doing web design stuff (thanks to Whoo for getting me started) and although I enjoy it, there hasn't exactly been a herd of folks knocking down the door. When summertime came, our landlord, who is starting a landscaping business asked if I wouldn't mind helping out on a job or two. So, before we left for extended holidays and again, upon our return, I did a small bit of manual labor. It was fun to earn a bit of money and I thought, "I ought to strap on my tool belt and do more handyman work, like I used to do."

Well, one eave fascia job led to a faucet replacement job, then a range hood exhaust fan job, to a complete bathroom renovation job, to a porch painting job and two or three MORE jobs, all waiting in the wings. No advertising, just word of mouth. Not bad, but it's now got me working evenings and weekends, in addition to regular hours. The mad rush, perhaps, till the big winter chill.

One woman, who is selling her house next spring, REALLY wanted me to come by and begin painting their porch this weekend. (Before it gets too cold to paint). Wouldn't you know ... Sunday was supposed to be a beautiful day. Last night, I called around, trying to find a babysitter for Alex, but couldn't - everyone was busy. Rachel couldn't do it because she's got a 5-page paper due for one of her nursing classes and was counting on ME to look after Alex.

So I called the lady, a mother of two boys, one Alex's age and the other a couple of years older. I made a proposal, "I'd really like to help you out and start painting the porch. If you could look after Alex, then - yes - I can come by and get started tomorrow." She said yes.

So that's how I was able to finagle someone into paying me to baby-sit Alex! Pretty sly, eh? I feel a bit like Tom Sawyer!

What did Alex think of the arrangement? She loved it! She had WAY more fun playing with these two boys than she would have had playing at home. And what an odd coincidence. The youngest boy is almost EXACTLY the same age as Alex. And an odder coincidence, the older boy's name is ALEX too! (Alexander)

So for the better part of the morning, Alexandra was called "little Alex" and Alexander was called "big Alex". They watched a movie (Finding Nemo) in the basement, had a snack, went across the street to play in the park and ate lunch. They all had a great time, while "handyman Dad" scraped, puttied, caulked and painted ... turning a coin and getting free day-care, twice over!

That Dad, what a busy lad!

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Updated: 26-Feb-2006
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Our Life

Book Tagged

July 1st, 2005  · stk

Why not "Music Tagged" instead?

I was "Book Tagged" by Don, on June 20th.

OKAY ... nevermind that it's now July and I'm just now getting around to responding. What's happened since June 20th? Well, Rachel and I have suffered from food poisoning (which was NOT fun). Alex was spared, thank God. Rachel has completed her first year of nursing studies at the University of Alberta, here in Edmonton. She had a final exam on the 25th, which meant that I had to watch the Oop, while she studied. Alex finished up day-care on the 28th. The dryer went out and one day, Rachel had to pull the clothes in off the line 3 times (as it changed from a sunny day to a dark, cloudy and rainy day). We use the line a lot, but understand how convenient a clothes dryer is on cloudy days! And now, we're getting ready to embark on a month-long summer holiday.

Modern life with a 1.8 year-old just seems to happen at warp speed.

Why couldn't I be music tagged instead? (I'm in the midst of ripping all our CD's onto the computer, for play throughout the house on our home network). I'd MUCH rather talk about that!

I haven't worked since 1999 and one of the things that I swore I was going to do when I wasn't working ... READ.

Hmmm. So what happened?

Alex happened, for one. Nothing puts the skids on reading more than an infant! (But thankfully, I've gotten into blogging, otherwise my admitted read would have to be, "Potty Training for Dummies"!)

It doesn't help that I'm a voracious reader. I'm not like Rachel, who can read for 20 minutes, put the book down for a day and then read another 20 minutes sometime later. Nope. I start ... I read ... I finish. Even if it means staying up till 3 o'clock in the morning. (Just more evidence that I'm an obsessive-compulsive person). Such a reading style isn't conducive to a happy marriage, or kids, for that matter.

Last Thing I Read

No real excitement here, since I got going with b2evolution and our own Internet hosting service in January ... I've been involved in all things "computing". My last read: "The Zen of CSS Design" by David Shea and Molly Holzschlag. (Not your normal 'who-dunnit'!)

Total Books We Own

Funny time for this question, as Don has caught us after a move to Canada from the United States, a hike from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail and ... well ... a grand total of SIX moves since 2000 - over one a year. Anybody that has moved knows how HEAVY books are!

I used to want a library ... now I just want to walk erect when I'm 75 years old! We own 1/10th the number of books we owned in 1999, maybe 120 volumes in total. It was tough giving away my University geology books (and I must admit that I ended up going back to retrieve a few). Still ... our new policy: If we haven't handled it in a year's time ... off to donation. GOD that hurts!

Last Book I Bought

EASY. Also the last one I read.

Books that Mean a Lot to Me

"Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin.

"Along the Pacific Crest Trail" Text by Karen Berger & Daniel R. Smith, Awesome Photography by Bart Smith.

"Endurance (Shackleton's Incredible Voyage)" by Alfred Lansing. -or- "The Endurance (Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition)" by Caroline Alexander. -or- "An Epic Polar Adventure - Endurance" by F.A. Worsley (Captain of HMS Endurance).

"How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World" by Harry Browne.

"Mountain Light" by Galen Rowell.

"Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes" by Stephen Jay Gould.

And a bunch more ....

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Updated: 16-Feb-2007
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